Chicken doughnuts spur concession sales at Rodeo Houston

When people think of rodeo and meat, they usually think of beef. That isn’t necessarily the case in Houston.

Roy Graber Headshot
The Doughnut Chicken Sandwich at Rodeo Houston
The Doughnut Chicken Sandwich at Rodeo Houston
Screenshot from TikTok

I’ve spent a lot of time around rodeo arenas, yet, I have never been to what is arguably the biggest regular season rodeo in North America: Rodeo Houston.

That might have to change someday. Oddly enough, it was learning about something that is sold at concession stands there that gave me yet another reason to want to go. And yes, it’s a chicken dish.

The Doughnut Chicken Sandwich

The food item I’m referencing is the Doughnut Chicken Sandwich. According to an Axios article, it sells for $16 at multiple concession stands. The sandwich made its debut in 2022, and evidently became a hit. Axios reporter Jay R. Jordan wrote: “From my first bite, I was hooked. The doughnuts were perfectly glazed, still warm from being made but cool enough to handle with my bare hands. The chicken grounded the whole thing, and I appreciated the gentle kick from the seasonings.”

That made me want to try it right there. But a TikTok video from @ryanrealestatehouston (Ryan Adams) offered further motivation to check it out. Adams tried the sandwich and then shared it with other people at the carnival on the Rodeo Houston grounds.

As Adams introduced the sandwich, he initially pointed out how much glaze was on the doughnut. He visibly enjoyed it, but brought attention to the gooiness of the entrée. He used three napkins after taking his first bite. Then he took his second bite, saying the second bite was better than the first. He rated it as an 8.1 out of 10.

The first person he shared it with practically agreed, but he rated it a 8.09, evidently because he didn’t think he liked it as well as his friend did.

Another sampler said: “That’s perfect. That’s on point.” His rating fell a little short of “perfect,” but was still an impressive 9.5. The next sampler gave it an even 9.

But there was the critic, unimpressed with the untidiness and sweetness of the sandwich, saying “It tastes like diabetes,” and rating it a 6. Still, that’s above average.

Adams wrapped up his video saying: “You need about 42 more napkins than you had, bit it’s a great balance of sweet and protein. You’ve got to do the Doughnut Chicken Sandwich at the Houston rodeo.”

Chicken at a rodeo?

In all my years, I can never recall eating chicken at a rodeo. I mean, it’s a sport that evolved around cattle production, and so there is justifiably a bit of meat snobbery there, with beef being the preferred protein.

Then there’s the fact that rodeo contestants are a superstitious bunch. Aside from not putting your hat on the bed, the most shared superstition is not to eat chicken on the day of competition. The rationale, according to what I once read one cowboy as saying, “you are what you eat.”

Cute, but if you look at it rationally, I’ve never seen a hamburger rope and tie a calf in 7 seconds flat, either.

But I do think that Rodeo Houston is an appropriate venue for chicken. With the carnival shown on the TikTok video, and concerts at the venue by top-selling music acts like Jelly Roll, Luke Bryan, Nickleback and Jonas Brothers, it gets a wide variety of people in attendance.

Most Rodeo Houston attendees aren’t rodeo traditionalists and probably don’t know Zeke Thurston from Thurston Howell III. And there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re just out to have a good time and create memories, so why not afford them the opportunity to try some new food?

And if the protein snobs see someone enjoying a Doughnut Chicken Sandwich, they might realize just how much they’re missing out.

In other chicken foodservice news:

Restaurant chain Panera Bread recently announced what it called its “biggest menu transformation in brand history,” with new menu items including the Chicken Bacon Rancher, Mediterranean Chicken Greens with Grains, Southwest Chicken Ranch and Balsamic Chicken Greens with Grains.

Convenience store chain Casey’s is adding three sandwiches, two of which are the Crispy Chicken and Spicy Chicken sandwiches.

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